Force second guess run of Bulls
Force second guess run of Bulls

Just when you think you know what's coming from the Bulls they catch you by surprise.

The three-times Super Rugby champions have a simple plan.

They rarely play out of their own half, use their high kicking game with good chasers to apply pressure and they love to maul in a slugfest.

But sometimes they don't stick to the plan - just ask Western Force coach Michael Foley.

In last year's 36-26 defeat at Loftus Versfeld, the Force were so sure they would face a maul in the first line-out they didn't take care of other options and the Bulls ran the ball through the centre to score.

"We were so keen to make sure we stopped their maul but they didn't maul against us in the first line-out," Foley said.

"That's the sort of side they are. They do play very direct rugby but they do mix it up just enough to catch you by surprise at times.

"They obviously use their maul very effectively, more than any other South African side, and what you assume is the traditional strengths of their side, but you can't take your eye off the ball because they have got a very good running nine (Francois Hougaard).

"Our defence is going to be tested in different ways, no doubt.

"Being alert to those sorts of possibilities is really important.

"It's acknowledging their strengths and being able to try and counter those things."

The Bulls have lost their three tour matches - against the Hurr-icanes, Highlanders and Waratahs - and have lost captain Flip van der Merwe to suspension.

But Foley does not believe there is ever a good time to play the Bulls.

"They are a very determined side with championship qualities, even going through tough times," Foley said.

"Having Victor Matfield captain them … Victor is an inspirational leader."

The Bulls are one of the best set-piece sides in the competition and the Force will need an improvement in the line-out and particularly the scrum, where Foley admitted his side was poor in the loss to the Rebels.

Young Adam Coleman faces a huge challenge against one of the greatest locks in Matfield. Wilhelm Steenkamp will be desperate to get off the bench and show his former teammates what they are missing.

"We just felt this combination (Coleman and Sam Wykes) would be the best to start," Foley said.

The West Australian

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